Editor’s Note: Mass obligation more than simply showing up
Archbishop Dennis M. Schnurr reminds you, on page 2 of this edition, that your Sunday Mass obligation is not suspended during the summer vacation months.
Summer activities, coupled with extended daylight hours and warmer temperatures do consume time. Still, the Sunday Mass requirement is an obligation, not an option. “On Sundays and other holy days of obligation the faithful are bound . . . to abstain from those labors and business concerns which impede the worship to be rendered to God, the joy which is proper to the Lord’s Day, or the proper relaxation of mind and body” (CIC, can. 1247).
Archbishop Schnurr also invites us all to see this obligation in the context of exercising our natural and constitutional right to freely exercise our religion.
Our attendance at Mass each Sunday and holy day demonstrates to the greater community that we believe what we preach, that we are faithful adherents to the Gospel of Christ and that we recognize that He has a physical presence at each and every Mass.
At the risk of sounding like a “get-off-my lawn” senior citizen, I would also ask that you attend Mass with a sense of decorum. Dress like you’re going to be in the presence of Jesus and behave accordingly. I personally cannot understand why there has to be conversation among couples, families and others during Mass. It reminds me of Matthew 26:40-41: “When He returned to His disciples He found them asleep. He said to Peter, ‘So you could not keep watch with me for one hour? Watch and pray that you may not undergo the test. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.’”
Can we not be quiet and pray with Our Lord for one hour each week? Can we ditch the chewing gum and observe the easily observed one-hour eucharistic fast? Can we not dress with modesty and a recognition of the eucharistic presence? Can we arrive in time to hear the Gospel read?
I once taught a graduate-level class in editorial writing at a major California university. It was located in Southern California, so the atmosphere was decidedly casual. Several students commented that I had on jacket and tie when I came from my day job to the campus. Many of them had spent the morning at the nearby beaches and just came into the class with a baggy t-shirt pulled over their swim suits. Some of them even took the time to put on flip-flops.
But there was a group of students who, while they did not wear coat and tie, dressed properly for class. They were the students who had already entered the work world and, almost universally, students from other countries and cultures. And you can bet they did better work, never missed an assignment deadline and scored better grades than their more casual classmates.
No one expects us to come to Mass in suit-and-tie or the female equivalent. And no one, including Our Lord, is asking us to be uncomfortable at Mass, although comfort is highly overrated.
When we exercise the worship aspect of our religious freedom, we should demonstrate that we understand and believe that Christ will join us at the consecration and that the Mass is there to guide us to salvation. Consider the words of Pope Francis as reported in the National Catholic Register:
“If people really understood that participating at Mass is witnessing Christ’s suffering, death and resurrection, then maybe they would stop taking pictures, talking, making comments and acting as if it were some kind of show.
“This is Mass: to enter into Jesus’ passion, death, resurrection and ascension. When we go to Mass, it is as if we were going to Calvary, it’s the same,” the pope said Nov. 22 during his weekly general audience.
“If people realize that Jesus is truly present in the Eucharist and is letting himself be broken and pouring out His love and mercy for everyone, ‘would we allow ourselves to chitchat, take pictures, to be on show? No,’ the pope said.”